Arlington Heights library cancels immigrant rights workshop amid threats, hate calls

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Friday, September 29, 2017
Library cancels immigrant rights workshops amid ICE raid threats
A library canceled a legal rights workshop for immigrants Monday after hate calls and threats of ICE raids came in.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- The Arlington Heights Memorial Library canceled a legal rights workshop for immigrants Monday after hate calls and threats of ICE raids came in, causing safety concerns for library workers and patrons.

In its own mission statement, the Arlington Heights Memorial Library prides itself on an inclusive and diverse atmosphere. They have hosted the immigrant rights workshop for many years, never receiving threats before previous workshops.

"A few were threats that ICE would be here and we didn't want any of that on the library property so we felt in the best interest of customers to cancel," said Mike Driskell, Arlington Heights Memorial Library Acting Director.

The canceled workshop was scheduled Monday night. It was organized by Jessica Hernandez with the Community Activism Law Alliance, known as CALA.

"We have presented to more than a thousand people and we never had an issue so, I was really disappointed and disturbed it actually happened," said Hernandez.

Hernandez said while the workshops focus on immigrants, they are free and open for anyone who wants to know their legal rights with law enforcement.

"What happened in this situation just shows how the immigrant population faces this fear of exactly this, the intimidation of racists and xenophobes," she said.

Some library patrons said they are disappointed the library felt the need to cancel the workshops. Joy Thomas, an Arlington Heights resident, said threatening ICE raids is not reflective of the Arlington Heights community she has lived in for decades.

"People should look at their own family tree, they will find out we are all immigrants from some place, it is disappointing immigration has become a hot topic that puts fear in people," Thomas said.

The Arlington Heights Memorial Library is discussing rescheduling workshop, but no date has been set. On their website, the library is asking for views from the entire Arlington Heights community regarding this decision.